By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
For Family Furniture of Mount Rainier, Md., the Tupelo Furniture Market is very much part of its extended family.
The retailer, which tallies $40 million in annual sales, relies heavily on the market to fill its three stores.
“We’re a promotional retailer, and the Tupelo Furniture Market has the best selection of products at the price points that we want,” said the company’s merchandise manager, Harvey Zalis.
That enables Family Furniture to pass the savings on to its customers, he added.
The company was founded in 1968 and it has been to the Tupelo Furniture Market since its first show 26 years ago.
On Thursday, First Family was named the spring market’s National Buyer Appreciation Award recipient.
Zalis, along with company founder and CEO Norman Gilden, lavished praise on the market.
“It’s an easy place to get to, the people go out of their way to help and it’s a wonderful place to shop,” Zalis said.
Gilden said his company’s success was closely tied to its relationship with the market.
“This market probably did about 50 percent above and beyond what I would ever have imagined because of what we find here,” he said.
Both men said the market’s ability to attract key promotional furniture manufacturers, as well as the area’s deep ties to the furniture industry, make it the ideal market to attend.
“You don’t get to be a $40 million company by yourself, and the Tupelo Furniture Market really helped us get where we are,” Gilden said.
Family Furniture is a full-line furniture retailer, offering living room, dining room and bedroom products.
Gilden founded the company 45 years ago with his partner, Fred Deutsch, who retired at age 93.
Gilden himself has an interesting background, having been a professional boxer before getting into the furniture business. He also was deeply involved with baseball, having been inducted into the All American Amateur Baseball Association Hall of Fame. He also scouted and coached for the Milwaukee Brewers from 1980 to 1996.